Prof. Tom Stevenson to open 30th Festival

Prof. Tom Stevenson

This year’s Orkney International Science Festival will be opened by Prof. Tom Stevenson. He has the unique distinction of having spoken in every Science Festival since the first one in 1991, developing lecture/demonstrations on topics from superconductivity and energy technology to early radio at sea.

With him at the first Festival was a colleague from Edinburgh University, Dr David Renshaw, who demonstrated a new development – his new single microchip that has made possible the miniature video cameras of today on our phones and computers.

For his talk in this year’s Festival, Prof. Stevenson will look at the way in which technology has changed our lives in the past three decades, and then forward to the changes that may lie ahead for Orkney over the next 30 years.

Microelectronics in Edinburgh

Born in Quoyloo, he attended Stromness Academy before going on to study physics and instrument design at the University of Aberdeen. He had the privilege of being taught by Professor R.V. Jones who had been an adviser to Winston Churchill on scientific intelligence during the Second World War.
After graduating from Aberdeen he worked for Ferranti and then Wolfson Microelectronics. In 1980 he joined the staff of Edinburgh University, and completed a PhD while there. The working relationship with the university was a long one, and by the time he retired in 2012 he held a Personal Chair in Microelectronics Technology and was Operations Director of the Scottish Microelectronics Centre.

Museum of Communication

Prof. Stevenson has been involved with the Museum of Communication in Burntisland, Fife, for over 30 years, having been a longstanding colleague and friend of the late founder of the collection, Harry Matthews.

Prof. Heinz Wolff, who opened the first Orkney Science Festival in 1991, went on to become a good family friend and Patron of the Museum of Communication.

With the Festival this year being delivered online, Prof. Stevenson’s opening talk, ‘As Far As Thought Can Reach’, will be accessible to anyone anywhere with internet access. He will highlight some of the developments in technology in the thirty years since the first Orkney Science Festival and then look forward to see what the next three decades might have in store for Orkney. For energy, for work, for survival, he asks – how will Orkney look in the world of 2050?

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